07 Jan 10 EASY Ways to a Healthy 2019
Remember 10 EASY Ways to a Healthy 2018, Part 1; the blog I promised to follow up with a Part 2 just weeks later? Yup, well…just now getting to Part 2. So, I’m going to call this blog Easy Ways to a Healthy 2019 (ha!) and make sure to read part 1 here.
Let’s just say 2018 has been awesome but CRAZY….
Between coaching sometimes 10 clients a day to leading corporate wellness presentations and healthy cooking demonstrations, taking care of Sophie (my paralyzed puppy), spending time with my family, friends and my boyfriend and his precocious daughter and trying to remember to shower (definitely skipped a few!) and workout in between, this year has zoooooomed past me like a freight train.
If your life is crazy busy too then I’m sure you can relate. How often has your health taken a back seat to a work or family obligation? It’s easy to lose track of our own needs when we’re going through life 100 mph and taking care of everyone else.
But your health doesn’t have to be an afterthought. And honestly, it shouldn’t be. Here’s a few small steps with BIG impact that will fit into your crazy busy day and will help you make your 2019 as happy and healthy as you can!
Show Yourself Some Grace.
I can be awful to myself sometimes. And though I’ve gotten so much better at being kind to myself, old habits die hard. Occasionally I still beat myself up about all of the things I didn’t get to, the things I could have done better, the way a certain pair of pants fit, etc.
But then I gut check myself, HARD.
Why am I so hard on myself?
I don’t know. I’m certainly not this hard on anyone else.
What does that negative self-talk accomplish?
Absolutely nothing. It stops me dead in my tracks until I talk myself out of it. It doesn’t motivate me or make me feel good.
Now, ask yourself this: Are you hard on yourself?
I’m willing to bet you said: Yes.
Would you treat your best friend or mom/dad/child/husband/wife/partner that way?
Chances are: No.
I regularly say to my personal clients, “Show yourself some grace. Instead of telling me why you didn’t workout / eat well / get enough sleep / stay positive / drink enough water, tell me about ONE thing you did RIGHT in regards to your health and self-care this week.”
And this changes everything.
Because once you get someone to acknowledge what they did RIGHT and get them to focus on that instead of what they didn’t do, they feel good. Good about themselves and their ability to help themselves be healthier. They start to cut themselves some slack. And they realize that even these seemingly small steps (“well, I did take the stairs today instead of the elevator / I went to bed 30 minutes earlier last night / I practiced positive self-talk / I had a salad for lunch”) are a HUGE step in the right direction.
And this feeling of satisfaction leads to the desire to take on and achieve another small step and another and another…see how that works?
So, the next time a negative thought about yourself pops up, catch it and then show yourself some grace instead. And focus on what you DID do or something, anything you did RIGHT. I guarantee you will feel a lot better about yourself and more motivated to take another step in the right direction.
Take it one step at a time.
Speaking of small steps, I want to tell you about a friend of mine. A few years ago, my friend made the choice to cut out beer from her diet and switch to gluten free vodka or tequila with club soda. This was the only change she made and stayed consistent for many months.
She lost over 10 pounds without really trying too hard.
This motivated her and eventually she decided she was going to start slowly cutting gluten out of her diet. She ate more fruit, veggies and gluten free carbs instead.
Many months later, she tried a heart pumping cardio class and fell in love. A year later she actually became certified to teach this intense cardio class. A year after that, she tried a spinning class and fell in love all over again.
My friend lost over 20 pounds and has lean muscle where she never had it before. And she did it by slowly taking one small step at a time. She made sure each step fit into her world before moving on to the next, no matter how long it took.
This approach may seem frustrating to you “all or nothing-ers” (I used to be an all or nothing-er so I get it!) But I’m telling you- after 16 years of health coaching and thousands of clients later, I know the small step approach is the answer to a lifetime of good health, a fit capable body and a happy, stable mindset.
So, how can you try it? First, start with a small step of your choice or pick one from Part 1 of this blog series or this blog. Again, sit with the change for a while, make it a part of who you are (even if that takes months.) Then and only then, move on to the next.
Swap out processed carbs for the real ones.
This one was a game changer for me. The older I get, the cleaner I have to eat to see my body change. As a foodie / chef / pancake lover, this isn’t easy.
A few years back, I took a look at my carb choices throughout the day and realized that even though I was eating healthy sources of carbs, I certainly didn’t need all of those grains and gluten. Or the bloat that comes along with them.
So, I started small. I swapped my toast in the AM with sweet potatoes (love em’ with my eggs and Sriracha sauce.) I then aimed for a salad a day in place of other grains. And then I made it a point to use as many fruits and veggies as my carb sources throughout the day instead of grains.
The end result?
Not only did I lean out, but I felt BETTER. My skin looks better. I have less pain and inflammation. My clothes fit better.
Now this is NOT to say that I don’t have gluten loaded pizza or even healthy brown rice gluten free pasta. I do! But I’ve s-l-o-w-l-y made it so fruits and veggies are my go-to carbs instead of the grainy stuff.
Want to try this? Start s-l-o-w. Make one swap at a time (ie. Toss the toast for fruit or sweet potatoes for example.) Let that change be a part of your life for awhile. Then move on to another meal and make a swap.
Don’t slide into the all or nothing mindset. Grains won’t kill you (and the healthy, naturally gluten free ones like brown rice, brown rice pasta, oats, and quinoa for example are actually good for you…though they can cause some bloat so eat sparingly.)
Again, the goal is to make fruits, veggie and even potatoes (still filling but not grains) your go-to’s and use the healthy grains when needed.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you understand how to pair your carbs with proteins and fats to boost your metabolism and keep you satisfied here. Remember though, one step at a time. Don’t do it all at once.
Relax your brain.
Awhile back, I was leading an interactive cooking demo and nutrition presentation at a CEO’s home for a group of his fellow colleagues and their spouses I hadn’t gotten much sleep due to back pain and I was completely wiped out and stressed beyond belief. But my job is to lead and to be entertaining (even when I feel like taking a nap.) I spent 10 hours that day on my feet presenting, cooking, laughing and putting on an awesome event.
At one point, the CEO’s wife, came over to me and said, “I don’t know how you do this. You seem so calm. I’m stressed and I’m not even the one running the show!”
And all I could think was, “Lady, you have no idea.”
About an hour before she and I had this conversation, I sneaked off to the bathroom. My heart was racing from stress and I was in a lot of pain. So, I pulled out pictures of my puppy Sophie on my phone while deep breathing. I scrolled through her goofy pictures and blocked out all of the noise in my head and on the other side of the door. And I just breathed.
I felt my shoulders drop, my heart rate slow down and a big smile spread across my face. I even felt my back pain dissipate a bit.
What did I do there? I basically meditated, in my own way. I focused on my breath and Sophie and I was able to go from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest.” Taking a mindful minute or meditation is proven to lower stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce pain, increase happiness and center you.
Do you need a Sophie to do this? Nope. You don’t even need an object or someone to focus on though that can help for some.
When you’re stressed out or in pain or just having a bad day, try going to a quiet place. Focus on your breath and as thoughts arise, acknowledge them but then give yourself permission to let them go. You can envision your happy place, someone you love, the beach, your puppy or just focus on breath alone.
And then just breathe for a few minutes. You’ll feel the stress and tension melt away.
I use this tool all the time because it works. There is something magical about breath work combined with meditation. And it doesn’t have to be you sitting cross legged on the floor with candles saying, “ommmmmm.” Make your mindful minute or meditation or whatever you want to call it your own.
Think movement instead of exercise.
I recently led a presentation for a group of CEO’s. People who are very busy and spend most of their day sitting behind a laptop, in meetings or on conference calls.
And I gave them this example:
Let’s say John is a busy guy who works long hours in an office all day. He often skips going out for lunch and eats at his desk. When he’s not in the office on his laptop, he’s in his car on his way to a meeting. When he gets home at the end of the day, John is wiped out and crashes on the couch in front of the TV. He does however make it to the gym a handful of times a week. He does a full body workout with a trainer and really gets his blood pumping.
Now let’s take his wife, Melissa. Melissa also works long hours in an office all day. But she makes it a point to get out of her chair every 30 minutes just to stretch, grab a drink of water, do a set of squats off of her chair or deliver a message to her coworker. She doesn’t have time to get to the gym, so she takes the stairs often at work. When she takes the kids to their activities, she walks the parking lot or field. And when she gets home exhausted at the end of the day, she joins her husband in front of the TV. But she uses that time to do some stretching or core planks and unwinding before bed. She would love to hit the gym a few times a week but between work and kids, she just doesn’t have the time.
Who do YOU think is doing more to serve their body and health? John or Melissa?
If you answered Melissa, you’re right.
And here’s why.
Our bodies were simply not designed to sit longer than 30 minutes. Think about the length of our spinal cord, the flexibility of our muscles and joints and the elasticity of our skin. We were literally constructed for MOVEMENT!
And in today’s day and age where we work longer than ever, sitting is killing us. When we sit, we compress our spinal cord which can cause pain and long-term back problems. We compress our chest cavity, which leads to less oxygen and slower brain activity and low energy. We slow our metabolism because we’re not using our muscles and body the way it is intended to be used.
There’s a difference between movement and exercise. And the truth is moving your body all day long is way more important than scheduled exercise.
Now I’m not saying to stop exercising if you are doing it. I exercise five times a week at home or at the gym. But make sure you are moving your body every 30 minutes or so when awake if you can. This will help you to stay mobile, burn calories, improve energy and mental well being and prevent pain and health challenges.
Wanna try it? Start by getting up out of your chair every 30 minutes at work. Set a timer on your phone if you need to as a reminder. Stand up, roll your shoulders, get a drink of water, go to the restroom, talk to a coworker or hang out with your dog or child if you’re home. Just move. And move often.
Remember, as 2019 approaches be kind to yourself.
Dieting and killing yourself at the gym, especially when you are already stressed with no time is a recipe for disaster. Instead of dieting, think about self-care or making a promise to yourself to take good care of YOU one small step at a time and showing yourself some grace along the way.
Happy New Year!
Love you all,